What God Is Teaching Me Through My Toddler

Today at lunch, my almost-three-year-old picked up a piece of broccoli and chucked it behind her off the table. I sat down beside her to find out what in the world could be going through her head. If you have spent much time with young children, you can probably guess that this was not the first time food had been thrown from the highchair to the floor, and it was not the first time she had been redirected for such behavior. How many times were we going to have to “discuss” that food stays on the table before it would sink in? I would like to say I received a genuine apology when she realized her wrongdoing, but the big smile she wore as she said, “Sorry, Mommy” certainly made me question the sincerity of her repentance. To top it all off, as soon as I redirected her she immediately asked me for something else – the nerve!

Over the last month, my husband and I have been participating in a parenting class at the church with a few other couples, so I have been examining moments with my kiddo a little more closely. As I reflected on “the broccoli as projectile” situation, the phrase “I am a child of God” took on a new meaning.

While I would like to think I do not behave like my toddler, I am in as much need of grace and redirection as she is when it comes to the sin in my life.

Here are a few things I learned about my nature and my relationship with God through this situation:

1. There is a good chance I will struggle with certain sins throughout my lifetime – and God will remind me over and over again that He created me for so much more. If God didn’t know my every thought, I imagine he would be just as confused about some of my decisions as I am when my child throws food for the 576 th time: “How many times will I have to tell you not to [fill in the blank] before it sinks in?!” And yet each time, He offers His grace through the saving blood of Jesus Christ.

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” - Romans 5:20.

2. I am guilty of minimizing my sin and offering half-hearted apologies to God. While I do not ask God for forgiveness through a cheesy grin like my child did in this situation, the heart behind my repentance probably reeks of the same insincerity. True repentance is a critical part of our walk with the Lord.

"'Yet even now,' declares the Lord, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.' Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster” - Joel 2:12-13.

God doesn’t want us to go through the motions and offer half-hearted apologies. He wants us to repent with a deep desire to turn our sin over to him.

3. I certainly do not shy away from asking God for things (even immediately after I sin against him). The scriptures say,

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will
your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” - Matthew 7:12.

It is absolutely true that if we ask, God will give us good things (even if they aren’t always the
“good things” we ask for), but sometimes we focus so much on what God can give us next that we forget that our ultimate fulfillment is in Him. I love the lyrics from the song “More than Anything” by Natalie Grant: “Help me want the Healer more than the healing. Help me want the Savior more than the saving. Help me want the Giver more than the giving. Help me want you, Jesus, more than anything.” I pray that I would want Jesus more than anything else I could ever ask for.

I am sure God will continue to teach me who He is and who I am in Him through situations with my child. I am thankful for all of the ways He reveals himself to me…even when I have thrown my broccoli for the millionth time. I am a child of God.

- Allie

Allie Riley and her husband Jon have been attending Redemption for over five years and have one daughter. Allie leads a women's Pod and is currently serving on the Kids Ministry Team. She is a member of the Cotswold Community Group and works for Girls on the Run. She enjoys spending time with family, being active, and sitting by the ocean (especially in Duck, NC)!